As promised, despite the shutting down of the solidarity tent, where Palestinians and their allies had been camped in front of Parliament from December 27th until their permit expired on January 24th, demonstrations calling upon the Icelandic government to take action regarding Palestine have continued.
Demonstrators assembled at Hallgrímskirkja church in downtown Reykjavík at around 2:00 PM yesterday and then marched west, chanting, drumming and carrying banners, before reaching Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament. Among the attendees were esteemed author Illugi Jökulsson, who gave a speech, as well as rapper Alexander Járl performing a musical number.
Bashar Murad performs
The highlight of the event was Palestinian singer Bashar Murad, who is set to compete in Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin song contest. Bashar first came to the attention of most Icelanders after the Icelandic band Hatari represented Iceland at Eurovision in 2019, which that year was held in Tel Aviv. The band visited Palestine and became acquainted with Bashar Murad, who was already an established artist, and collaborated with him.
At the demonstration, Bashar gave an a cappella performance of “Mawṭinī”, which means “My Homeland”, the lyrics to which were written by the Palestinian poet Ibrahim Tuqan with music by Lebanese musician Mohammed Flayfel composed for it in 1934. The song has a long and storied history, and is considered by many to be the unofficial second national anthem of Palestine.
The demands remain the same
The demands of the protesters, reiterated at the demonstration’s conclusion, have not changed. Palestinians in Iceland have implored the Icelandic government to follow through on their policy of family reunification, wherein those seeking international protection in Iceland may also be reunited with their families. This policy has been applied, for example, to Ukrainians in Iceland, but the family members of many of the Palestinians in Iceland are still in Gaza, and they want the government’s help in retrieving them. The government has thus far contended that it is not obliged to fulfill this request.
In addition, they have asked that the government cease deportations of Palestinian asylum seekers, and they have called for a meeting with government ministers.
Demonstrations are likely to continue, as per a statement organisers of the solidarity tent made shortly after it was taken down: “Our shared responsibility does not end at this tent; it extends to the ongoing pursuit of justice, peace, human dignity and the protection of vulnerable lives in Palestine. We feel that we have no choice but to continue.”